The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called for urgent action to secure consumers’ access to cash after Which? reported a massive increase in the number of cash machines being converted to charge fees.

Figures obtained by Which? show that fees of at least 95p per withdrawal have been imposed on 1,700 machines between January and March this year. Which? reports that around three quarters of these fees have been introduced in March alone.

ACS believes LINK’s reduction of the interchange fee for ATM transactions has prompted the changes.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “LINK’s decision to cut interchange fees was designed to reduce the number of cash machines operating in the UK, but with banks also withdrawing from high streets and town centres at an alarming rate, there are significant gaps appearing in provision, leaving convenience stores as often the only place where consumers have free access to cash.

“With hundreds of machines a month now either being moved to a pay-to-use model or taken away completely, access to cash is suffering irreparable damage. Action must be taken now to ensure that all communities in the UK can access their cash when they need it.”